ROME — Before delivering a major address to Pope Benedict XVI and the world Synod of Bishops on new evangelization this evening, Anglican Archbishop Rowan Williams of Canterbury stopped for prayer at a church significant to both Catholics and Anglicans.
The Church of St. Gregory on the Caelian Hill is the church from which Pope Gregory the Great sent St. Augustine of Canterbury and his fellow monks to evangelize England in 597.
Archbishop Williams is supporting the efforts of the Camaldoli monks and nuns at St. Gregory’s to develop the church’s popularity as an ecumenical pilgrimage stop for Anglican and Catholic visitors to Rome.
In the little chapel of St. Gregory — where Archbishop Williams and Pope Benedict prayed together in March — the archbishop and Camaldoli Father Peter Hughes, the prior, led a short prayer service this morning.
Father Hughes told the archbishop, “The symbolic weight of pilgrimage to this holy place in order to pray for Christian unity cannot be overemphasized. When hope begins to fade and enthusiasm wanes, it is the corporate memory of moments such as these that inspires us and helps us recuperate the dynamic of the ecumenical vision, continue to legitimate it and reinforce our commitment to it.”
Archbishop Williams led the monks, nuns, Anglican and Catholic faithful present in prayers for Pope Benedict, for the synod and for all those praying and working, especially in Rome, to promote Christian unity.